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A person who willfully or maliciously burns, damages, or destroys by fire or explosive any of the following or its contents can be charged with Arson:

  (a) A multi unit building or structure in which 1 or more units of the building are a dwelling, regardless of whether any of the units are occupied, unoccupied, or vacant at the time of the fire or explosion.

  (b) Any building or structure or other real property if the fire or explosion results in physical injury to any individual.

  (c) A mine.

When charging the crime of Arson, the mere fact that a fire has occurred affords no proper basis for inference that it was wrongfully set, under such circumstances, it may be assumed that it was the result of accident or some natural cause.

The elements of Arson may be established by circumstantial evidence where there is evidence of motive and opportunity and independent evidence of the incendiary origins of the fire.

DEFINITIONS
ARSON

  • Building” – includes any structure regardless of class or character and any building or structure that is within the curtilage of that building or structure or that is appurtenant to or connected to that building or structure.
  • Burn – means setting fire to, or doing any act that results in the starting of a fire, or aiding, counseling, inducing, persuading, or procuring another to do such an act.
  • Damage – in addition to its ordinary meaning, includes, but is not limited to, charring, melting, scorching, burning, or breaking.
  • Dwelling – includes, but is not limited to, any building, structure, vehicle, watercraft, or trailer adapted for human habitation that was actually lived in or reasonably could have been lived in at the time of the fire or explosion and any building or structure that is within the curtilage of that dwelling or that is appurtenant to or connected to that dwelling.
  • Individual – means any individual and includes, but is not limited to, a firefighter, law enforcement officer, or other emergency responder, whether paid or volunteer, performing his or her duties in relation to a violation of this chapter, or performing an investigation of a violation of this chapter.
  • Personal property – includes any personally owned property regardless of class, character, or value.
  • Physical injury – means an injury that includes, but is not limited to, the loss of a limb or use of a limb; loss of a foot, hand, finger, or thumb, or loss of use of a foot, hand, finger, or thumb; loss of an eye or ear or loss of use of an eye or ear; loss or substantial impairment of a bodily function; serious visible disfigurement; a comatose state that lasts for more than 3 days; measurable brain or mental impairment; a skull fracture or other serious bone fracture; subdural hemorrhage or subdural hematoma; loss of an organ; heart attack; heat stroke; heat exhaustion; smoke inhalation; a burn including a chemical burn; or poisoning.
  • Prior conviction – means a previous conviction for a violation of this chapter that arises out of a separate transaction, whether under this chapter, a local ordinance substantially corresponding to this chapter, a law of the United States substantially corresponding to this chapter, or a law of another state substantially corresponding to this chapter, but does not include a violation of section 79(1)(a).

Arson can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony and can be found under MCL 750.72-750.78.                                                                            

PENALTY
ARSON

  • Arson Less Than $200 — Under Section 750.78 of the Michigan Penal Code, it’s a misdemeanor crime to set fire to personal property valued at less than $200. The possible penalties for a first conviction include up to 93 days in jail, and a fine of up to $500 or three times the value of the burned property, whichever is greater. The penalties for a second conviction include a possible jail sentence of up to 1 year, and a fine of up to $2,000 or three times the value of the burned property, whichever is greater.
  • Arson $200 to $1,000 — Under Section 750.78, it’s a misdemeanor crime to set fire to personal property valued at $200 to $1,000. The possible punishment includes up to 1 year in jail, and a fine of up to $2,000 or three times the value of the burned property, whichever is greater.
  • Fifth Degree — Under Section 750.77, your second or subsequent conviction for using fire to intentionally damage or destroy personal property valued at $1,000 or less is fifth degree arson. The possible punishment includes up to 1 year in jail, and a fine of up to $2,000 or three times the value of the damaged or destroyed property, whichever is greater.
  • Fourth Degree — Under Section 750.75, you may be charged with the felony offense of fourth degree arson for maliciously or willfully burning property valued at $1,000 to $20,000, or when you have one or more prior convictions for arson involving personal property valued at $200 or more. The possible penalties for fourth degree arson include up to 5 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000 or three times the value of the burned property, whichever is greater.
  • Third Degree — Under Section 750.74, you may be charged with the felony offense of third degree arson when you willfully or maliciously burn any building or structure, any personal property valued at $20,000 or more, or have one or more prior convictions for burning personal property valued at $1,000 or more. The possible penalties for third degree arson include up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $20,000 or three times the value of the burned property, whichever is greater.
  • Second Degree — Under Section 750.73, you may be charged with the felony offense of second degree arson when you maliciously and willfully burn any dwelling. The possible punishment includes up to 20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $20,000 or three times the value of the burned property, whichever is greater.
  • First Degree — Under Section 750.72, you may be charged with the felony offense of first degree arson when you maliciously and willfully burn or use an explosive device in a multi unit building such as an apartment building or office building, any building or structure if it results in injury to a person, or a mine. The possible penalties for a first degree arson conviction include up to life in prison, and a fine of up to $20,000 or three times the value of the burned property, whichever is greater.

DEFENSE
ARSON

  • The accused was simply burning your own property. 
  • The accused lacked the requisite intent to commit arson 
  • The accused caused the fire, but it was an accident. 

 

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